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Tag Archives: poetry

REVIEW: t’ai freedom ford’s “how to get over” Is An Urgent Reckoning With The Past

how to get over  -- the debut poetry collection from t’ai freedom ford -- is part instruction manual, part black culture guidebook and part handing the mic to everyone from Harriet Tubman to Rodney King. “Every single word I write is under the auspices of my ancestors,” ford declares.  The Cave Canem graduate gives them their say in 57 poems covering nearly 250 years of pain and beauty. ford, who teaches English in a New York City high school, leans into poetry with urgency—read this and read it now. She divides her book into four sections – Live, Lie, Love, and Die – each building on the architecture of the segment before. The 16 poems that comprise “Die” are the strongest of the collection. If you pick up how to get over, read “autopsy of a not dead father... Read More →

READ: Jericho Brown’s Striking New Poem, “The Tradition”

Poet Jericho Brown, winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year, has written a 14-line poem that begins with the names of flowers and concludes with the names of men.  He calls it “The Tradition.”  Brown notes, “The poet’s relationship to language and form is an addiction where what’s past is present, a video on loop. Not watching won’t make what that video says about our future go away.” He made this observation to accompany “The Tradition” as the American Academy of Poets sent it to some 300,000 readers August 7, part of its “Poem a Day” project, which has been distributing poetry digitally since 2006.  A native of Louisiana and  a professor of English at Emory University, Brown will accept his Anisfield-Wolf prize in Cleveland next month for his second... Read More →

East Cleveland Women Use Poetry On The Path To Healing

by Ann Kowal Smith + Rachel Burstein This post was originally published on the Books@Work blog. Reading, writing and discussing poetry has the power to open windows in life-changing ways, giving readers the freedom to tell their own stories and view themselves as capable learners and contributors. Our current partnership with the East Cleveland Municipal Court and From Lemons to Lemonade (FL2L) bring Books@Work to a group of single mothers and other women whose lives rarely afford them the opportunity to read, let alone reflect. The majority of the women in the group have suffered extraordinary personal hardships; they often struggle to provide for their children. But these women’s stories don’t have to end there; with the right support, single mothers and other women finding... Read More →

REVIEW: “Patient” By Bettina Judd

It took three attempts before I could get past the first entry in Patient, an uncomfortable jaunt into America's crippling disregard of black bodies. It is raw.  In this collection of 53 poems, Bettina Judd excoriates two famous men — Dr. J. Marion Sims, long considered the father of modern gynecology, and circus showman P.T. Barnum — for their exploitation of slave women in furthering their careers. The poet, a professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at the College of William and Mary, investigates this trauma and somehow coaxes dignity from a horrific past.   Dr. Sims arrived at an Alabama plantation in the mid-1840s to assist a slave in a stalled, three-day labor. He used his discoveries in that delivery to refine his medical knowledge. Over five years, Sims... Read More →

“No One Will Make This Beauty A Burden”: Poetry As A Response To Ferguson

Hours after authorities announced that the grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., would not indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown, The Strivers Row – a performance collective in New York City -- began posting poems to its Facebook page.One was "Sing It As The Spirit Leads," Joshua Bennett's forceful ode to black excellence written after George Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 of killing Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Bennett begins by echoing the last stanza of a Lucille Clifton poem: "Come, celebrate with me. Every day something has tried to kill me and failed.”Bennett performed the poem a year ago at Kent State University, where he told the audience that he writes to dig at the truth and help listeners and readers shed shame. "Poems should be archeology,... Read More →

Poetry Becomes An Outlet For Cleveland Teens

For James LeVan, a 16-year-old Cleveland student at Glenville High School, police brutality became top of mind early this year. He witnessed an uncomfortable interaction between a young Cleveland man and a police officer. LeVan said he did not know the victim and didn't feel comfortable getting involved, but the incident stuck with him. "It seemed like [the police officer] was harassing him for no reason," LeVan said. "It didn't make sense." A scholar in the Fatima Center’s Summer Institute, Le Van channeled his confusion into a poem, "The Mind of a White Cop," in which he speculates about the thinking of a hypothetical white police officer on his daily beat. Poetry writing was part of the Summer Institute, said Director Apryl Buchanan, with an emphasis on the works on Langston... Read More →

Poet Joshua Bennett Offers Electric Spoken Word Experience At Kent State University

Poet Joshua Bennett adjusted the mic stand at Kent State University. “I was raised Baptist,” he warned the audience in Oscar Ritchie Hall. “I need energy from you. I’m open to any and all forms of enthusiasm.” Dressed in dark skinny jeans, a cranberry sweater vest and Oxford shirt, Bennett steadied himself and spoke of his recent discovery of Lucille Clifton’s poetry. Using the last stanza of Clifton’s “Won’t You Celebrate With Me,” he began his poem, “Say it, Sing it, as the Spirit Leads,” written in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict: “Come, celebrate with me. Every day something has tried to kill me and failed.” A special guest of KSU's Wick Poetry Center, the man from Yonkers, N.Y. has entered the national conversation during the past three... Read More →

Poetry Anthology Published To Honor Malala Yousafzai

October 9 is the first anniversary of the grim day that masked gunmen stormed onto a bus in Pakistan and shot a child in the head. Their motive was political: She had defied them publicly, having the temerity to insist that girls be allowed to attend school. The world now knows her mellifluous name – Malala – and many were heartened by her medical recovery, capped July 12 when she addressed the United Nations. “One child,” she said, “one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” At least one cohort of adults believes her. A collection of poets has rallied to contribute to “Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai,” edited by Joseph Hutchinson and Andrea L. Watson. Its publication coincides with this first anniversary, and its proceeds go to the Malala Fund. “This... Read More →

“We Are All Political”: Poets Eugene Gloria & Kazim Ali Move The Crowd At MOCA

Eugene Gloria, this year's winner for poetry, reads from My Beloved Warlord at the 2013 awards ceremonyEugene Gloria says that he is fascinated by failure. He was quick to describe a particular poem or two as failed, and even his book, “My Favorite Warlord,” which won a 2013 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, as a failure of his original idea to describe 1967.“I ran out of ideas for 1967, became bored,” Gloria told listeners at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland. “I ran out of gas, even though I was obsessed by it. The idea of failure is fascinating to me.”And yet, 1967 is a fulcrum in “My Favorite Warlord” – the year his family arrived in San Francisco from the Philippines, the year his future wife was born in Detroit, the year that Wole Soyinka is “being hauled to... Read More →

Young Poet Graces Stage, Dazzles Crowd At 2013 Anisfield-Wolf Ceremony

Tonight, our spotlight shined on 10-year-old Gwyneth Wilde, a fifth-grader at the Falcon Academy of Creative Arts in Mogadore. Gwyneth will recite a poem she wrote last year in a workshop sponsored by Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center. This superb program, which brings poetry to communities throughout Northeast Ohio, is led by Nicole Robinson, who accompanied Gwyneth, along with Gwyneth’s parents, Laura and Brian Wilde. Take a minute to read her poem, “Flinging off the Curved Bow” and leave a comment for Gwyneth. We’ll make sure she sees it. Read More →
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